on January 13, 2012
The day before our return to England I was treated to a surprise trip to Niagara falls from New York. It is do able in a day but believe me it is a very long day necessitating a very early wake up in fact the middle of the night and returning past midnight.In my opinion there are two earth elements that never fail to stun and amaze! One being fire from lava spewing volcanoes and the other the sound and flow of water whether it be from small streams to major rivers, the tinkling of fountains into ponds to the lapping of waves from the oceans! One amazing sight and sound is from Niagara Falls.Where are Niagara Falls?Niagara Falls can be found in New York State in the USA and Toronto, Canada with the international border running through them separating the two countries. They can be approached from either side depending on where you are.The falls are a set of waterfalls that begin their journeys from the Great lakes Superior, Huron, Michigan and Erie in Canada and America flowing into the Niagara River. The falls have been around since 11,000 BC when the glaciers melted and formed the river Niagara. The first European to see the falls was a French Priest in the 1675. The French settled in the area in 1678 and then the British in 1759.My visit to Niagara Falls?The trip up to Niagara Falls was booked as a surprise visit when I was in New York. I was completely unaware of it until the evening before as we came out of the theatre and was told that we had to go straight to bed as we had to get up at 03:30, which to me is Silly O’clock, to get out to JFK to catch the first flight up to Buffalo.We arrived in Buffalo just after 08:00 and went to find a cafe to have a breakfast and more importantly some Coffee. We were picked up at 10:00 by a mini bus which then proceeded to pick up other people from a couple of hotels en route to Niagara Falls.The bus driver was quite a jovial chap and made us laugh with a few funny jokes me thinks he has probably told the same little gems hundreds of times but never the less he was quite entertaining. I have an irrational and severe phobia about snakes and was reassured that we would be unlikely to see any so far north. Blow me down we pulled into a hotel to pick up three people and as I looked out of the window I saw a massive black snake in the grass......well I won’t tell you my exact words but suffice it to say it was X rated!We drove out to Niagara state park along the banks of the fast flowing river. Here we could see some the hydroelectric power stations that utilise the massive force of water from the falls to produce electricity. As we approached the falls you could see the mist rising slightly above the falls but no quite see the falls themselves. The driver stopped at a vantage point so that we could get out for our first view of the falls themselves. The view was beautiful but still a bit limited until we were a bit nearer.We arrived at the visitor centre where we had tickets to go down to the caves of the winds. We were given a yellow souvenir poncho type thing to wear over our clothes to stop us getting drenched you are also given a pair of sandals to wear both of which you get to keep. You are told to roll your trousers up as they will otherwise get soaked. We then got in a lift to take us down to the viewing decks and walkways below. Approaching the viewing decks you walk through a series of tunnels and you can hear the thunderous roaring of the cascading water.There is a set pathway to walk along where at various intervals of the walk you get a drenching from some of the cascading water. You are at first aware of fine mist and as you proceed around the pathway you actually get belted by the water falling. Some of it feeling as if you are being massaged quite roughly by jet sprays. You get quite close to the falls right down by the rocks and are within about 20 feet of the crashing water. After this we returned to the top then walked around to the observation deck which juts out over the water and serves two purposes. The first one being as an observation deck giving you unparalleled views of the falls to the left Canada ahead of you and to the right the fast flowing water below in the gorge and the suspension bridge between Canada and the USA. The second purpose of this observation deck is to transport you by lift down to the landing stage of the maid of the mist.The Maid of the Mist.Tours have taken place since 1846 on various boats called the maid of the mist today there are 4 Maids of the mist 2 on the American side that take 300 passengers whereas the Canadian boats take 600. Originally the boats were used to ferry people across the river but once the bridge was built there was no need for the boats so they turned them into tourist boats to see the wondrous falls. We were issued another poncho type rain Mac this time in blue and told that no matter where you were on the boat you WOULD GET WET but in three degrees of wetness. 1. Inside below deck you would get damp.2. The middle deck you would get wet.3. The top deck and you would get drenched.We chose to go on the top deck because we wanted to experience the force of the falls. There are several boats called the Maid of the mist which pick up people both on the American side and the Canadian side of the falls. The approach to the falls was spectacular passing the bride falls on the American side and seeing the viewing pathways we had visited less than 20 minutes earlier. From this point we got a little damp from the mist emanating from the falls. The boat continued to surge ahead in the swirling waters where they come crashing down from the Canadian side of the falls more properly known as the Horseshoe falls because of their shape.Approaching the mist which appears like a fine mist initially until you are driven right into it and visibility is somewhat reduced. The mist started off really finely but as we continued we suddenly became surrounded by the mist and ended up quite drenched. It was great fun and the combination of the thunderous sounds of the water crashing down so near is immense. Bearing in mind I am totally deaf in one ear and only have 17% hearing in the other ear the noise to me was incredible so for those with perfect hearing it must have been a massive noise.The boat seemed to be being thrown around in the swirling waters below the falls and slowly it began to turn and we headed back to the landing stage. This was probably the highlight of the trip to the falls.We then returned to the top where we proceeded to the American side of the Horseshoe falls and to the viewing point. We took a few photos here and spent about an hour admiring the force of the water and the crashing water going over the rim of the falls and watching the mist rising and falling. It really is quite a phenomenal sight to see and experience the power of the water. Thick dark rain clouds approached and a massive thunder and lightning storm approached so we went back to the bus and were taken into the town to watch a film show about the falls and the mad escapades and facts about the falls. The only thing I would say about the town of Niagara on the American side was that I felt it rather tacky and too much like Margate or Blackpool. Would I recommend a visit to Niagara Falls?Absolutely yes I would although my trip was a whirlwind visit I would love to return and perhaps stay in the area for two or three days. I would have loved to have crossed over into Canada to view the falls from the Canadian side but time did not permit. I thought it was a super visit and although I was absolutely dead beat by time we got back to New York we finally got back to the hotel at 1AM I thought it was well worth the early morning wakening and an unforgettable trip.
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